Theologia Karagiogis    [B+    JMS]

Music and Form Analysis Paper           


For most young adults, music is a part of our every day lives. It is rare that we do not turn on a radio, scroll through our iPod’s playlists, or sing along to a music video on YouTube. With modern technology, music has become easily accessible through the web, allowing for quick downloads and sharing of music files. However, even though an artificial form of an artist’s work is available to the public, we still maintain the craving to attend a live performance of our favorite artists or bands.


On the 9th of October, I attended an Elli Kokkinou concert at Hammerstein Ballroom. Elli Kokkinou is a Greek pop icon, as well as a sensation in both Europe and in the United States. In fact, the concert at Hammerstein Ballroom marked the beginning of her North American Tour during which she plans to perform in Boston, Atlantic City, Toronto and other areas home to a sufficient amount of Greek Americans. She sings popular music and would be considered the equivalent to a Britney Spears, in terms of fame and Top 40 hits.


Elli Kokkinou’s repertoire consists of pieces in both the major and minor keys. Most, if not all of her songs, are narratives about love, including break-ups, make-ups, and everything in between. “Erota Mou” (My Love) is my favorite song from this particular artist. The piece tells the story of a woman who is in love with a man. This man has consumed her thoughts and her main objective is to find him, and to sin with him. While performing the song, her facial expressions and movements, which were at times sexual, added to her overall connection with the crowd. She was attempting to connect with the audience through improvisational body language as opposed to strict choreography.


The piece is in song form and alternates between verse and chorus. There are two versus, separated by a chorus and then two repetitions of the chorus at the end of the song. At the last word of each verse, Elli’s pitch elevates, signaling the chorus as well as creating an energetic response from the audience. Even a listener who does not understand Greek would be able to distinguish these changes and interpret the lyrics in some manner. The rhythm-chorus pattern is the general structure for most Greek pop songs.


The rhythm of “Erota Mou” is regular and constant. Considering the lyrical value of the work, the rhythm can also be defined as insistent. The song is performed in a major key. The tempo is medium, neither too quick nor too slow. The tempo, like the rhythm, is also constant. The tempo does however slightly pick up once Elli hits the last word of the verse. There is one melody line and the piece is long and lyrical, consisting of short words.


The instruments used in the concert varied for different compositions. The drums were the primary percussion instruments used. Strings included the violin, the guitar, the electric guitar and the bouzouki. * Other instruments included the keyboard, tambourines held by the background singers, and the saxophone and clarinet as the wind instruments. Not all of the instruments were used for every piece, although the drums and guitars were played for the majority of the pieces. The bouzouki held a solo in many of the pieces, often beginning the song. The bouzouki is an easily distinguishable sound for any Greek ear. Upon hearing the bouzouki, all the members of the audience turned towards the stage. Certain songs did not appeal to some audience members, but solos with the bouzouki initiated a positive response from the entire audience.


Although Elli Kokkinou has released over three CDs, she performed songs by other Greek artists. This is a typical phenomenon of Greek concerts. About two-thirds of the music performed belongs to the artist and the remainder is an eclectic mix from all genres of Greek music. What is interesting about this is that the audience had the same response to Elli’s music that they had with the music from other artists. The audience came to see Elli, but in turn expected to hear their favorite Greek songs as well as some classics.

 In order to understand the reasoning behind this, one has to understand the set up of a typical Greek concert. Hammerstein Ballroom was divided into distinct sections depending on the price of tickets. Those who purchased the most expensive tickets were seated at tables directly under the stage. The balcony held those who purchased a lower cost ticket. I unfortunately had a seat in the balcony. The spectators by the stage were given flowers to throw at Elli while she performed as well as the hope of touching her hand. About twenty minutes into the concert, I was unable to see the tables because they were overwhelmed with the audience members dancing on them. This is one of the reasons why Greek artists choose to play other artist’s songs. Elli Kokkinou is a fairly new artist and although she has a selection of appealing songs, there are artists who are more well known and appreciated. Their music automatically sparks a reaction with the Greek audience. The concert began and ended with Elli’s music. She first performed works from her new album, and then transitioned into her greatest hits, followed by the music from other artists and then the repeated her newest single.


Most of the dancing I witnessed was either in the form of a tsifteteli or a zeibekiko. Tsifteteli is a Greek form of belly dancing is response to works played in the major key. Zeibekiko is an improvisational dance and gives the appearance of a drunken individual. Zeibekiko type songs are in the minor key and often contain depressing lyrics. This shows the variety of music performed by Elli at the concert. Both the people on the tables and those in the balcony sang and danced the majority of the concert. Elli Kokkinou held out the microphone during choruses of certain songs and allowed the audience to sing the lyrics.


There were more women at the concert, but there was also a noticeable amount of men. Most of the women were dressed in heels and clothes that would be considered club wear. The age of the audience ranged from teenagers to individuals in their forties. Whereas seeing thirty year-olds at a Britney concert would spark inquiry, this is typical of the Greek popular music fan base.

Myself, my cousin, and the rest of Elli’s fans waited outside for over an hour in a snake line circling around the block. Although the concert began late, it was worth the wait. When you spend eighty dollars on a ticket, you expect to have a good time. I’ve been near the stage at Hammerstein so, I must admit I was disappointed that the sound quality was not as clear as it was near the stage. However, if I were not to compare it, than the sound quality was above average in clarity.

Elli did not have choreographed moves but rather improvised and fed off the energy of the audience. We were not listening to her but rather interacting with her. Allowing us to “take over the stage” by singing without her, made the audience feel like Elli was excited to perform for us and appreciated our support and love for her music. The environment was full of energy. Who wouldn’t want to spend a night dancing to live music? People were even dancing during the intermissions when a novice singer performed as Elli took her break.

The reason why I enjoy going to Greek concerts is because I feel as if I am getting my money’s worth. I’m not the kind of person who wants to stare at a celebrity who believes they are the ultimate superstar. Elli Kokkinou was very humble about her performance as well as her attire. Her energy was at a constant high, as was the energy of the audience. It was a night of celebration and a morning of blisters.

*The bouzouki is a core instrument in all genres of Greek music. “It is a stringed instrument with a pear-shaped body and a very long neck. The bouzouki is a member of the ‘long neck lute’ family and is similar to a mandolin. The front of the body is flat and is usually heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument is played with a plectrum and has a sharp metallic sound” (Wikipedia).